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What’s It Like Driving an Actual DeLorean Time Machine?

A few complicated legal exceptions aside, replicas are often welcomed as accessible ways of celebrating automotive greats. And few machines are as recognizable as that 80s icon, the DeLorean time machine. But ignoring the pop culture panache, what’s the DeLorean DMC-12 actually like as a car? YouTube team Throttle House attempted to find out.  

Making a replica DeLorean time machine

Stainless-steel 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 parked with the doors up
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 | DeLorean Motor Company

With how impactful Back to the Future is, it’s no surprise many fans have made their own DeLorean time machines. In fact, one recreation was so well-received, it led to its creator launching his own movie car replica business, Car and Driver reports.

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North Carolina-based Razorfly Studios, led by husband-and-wife team Mark and Angela Zoran, has made several other prop cars. Jurassic Park Jeeps, Blues Brothers Dodge cop cars, and so on. But it all started with a DeLorean time machine Mark made in his spare time over a roughly 3-year period.

Replicating a movie prop isn’t exactly like building a Lego set. There aren’t any instructions—but there plenty of stills and supporting info. So, no two are exactly alike. But Razorfly’s DeLorean time machine gets extremely close to what’s shown in the movie. That’s because the Zorans either source the same hardware the movie team used, or cast replica parts themselves. The power switch for the electronics is the same one used by the actual prop team, for example. The Mr. Fusion reactor’s base, though, is cast from a piece of 1960s missile-guidance hardware.

The DeLorean time machine replica Throttle House drove wasn’t made by Razorfly. However, it’s definitely equal when it comes to painstaking effort. In fact, according to TimeMachineforHire.com, this very car was hired by Universal Studios for the Back to the Future Blu-ray release.

The replica reactor contains Rolls-Royce jet engine parts. There are bits and pieces from an actual F-16 fighter jet, which required government permission to use. Inside, there are numerous digital displays, the famous flux capacitor, and an LED board that reacts to sound. Even the tires have been reworked. Goodyear doesn’t make Eagle GTs anymore—the owner recreated the script on modern ones.

What’s it like to drive?

The original DeLorean DMC-12 went through a very complicated design, production, and release process, Autocar reports.

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It was originally going to be a mid-engine car with a rotary engine. But the rear-engine production version released with a 2.85-liter V6, making 130 hp and 153 lb-ft. Though, thanks to input from British company Lotus, the DeLorean does have independent front and rear suspension. And of course, it has those gullwing doors and that stainless-steel body.

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Even before the additional rear weight, the DeLorean wasn’t a fast car. 0-60 comes in about 10.5 seconds. Hilariously, the car’s speedometer only goes to 85 mph. The movie car’s speedometer was modified to read up to 95. And reportedly, a Porsche engine was installed in the movie car to improve acceleration.

Dynamically, Throttle House reports the DeLorean time machine isn’t great. Although the steering has a lot of feedback, it’s somewhat loose. Also, the added gear, in addition to affecting handling, means there’s no rear visibility. Plus, the interior mods do make it a bit awkward to shift the 5-speed manual. In addition, the standard A/C isn’t particularly effective, and the door design means the only window opening is a tiny slot. Finally, there’s not a lot of headroom.

However, as an emotion-delivery machine, the DeLorean absolutely delivers. The gear, the flashing lights, everything feels special. Driving down the street, people stop and point. Both Throttle House hosts couldn’t stop smiling while they were driving it.

It’s joy like that which makes people pay $300k for a 240Z. You aren’t another person in a car. You are living the fantasy of the film. Objectively, the DeLorean time machine is very compromised. But emotionally, it’s fantastic.

A ‘new’ DeLorean may be available soon

Making your own DeLorean time machine isn’t exactly cheap. Razorfly Studio rarely sells turn-key cars. But the few it has sold can go for up to $50,000. And a good-condition stock car tends to go for $35,000-$45,000 on Bring a Trailer. Add in the modification costs, and you’re looking at a roughly $100,000 car.

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It might soon be possible, though, to get a brand-new DeLorean DMC-12 for that money, Road & Track reports. The DeLorean Motor Company in Texas has been in the restoration business for a few years now, Hagerty reports. But new legislation, the same that opens the market up for Morgan and Caterham, means the company will soon be able to sell actual new cars. And they might make 300-350 hp.

So your DeLorean time machine really will be able to hit 88 mph in the space of a parking lot.

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